Impact of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture to be unveiled at major city symposium

The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Cultural Capital will unveil a 20 year longitudinal study into the impact of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year at a major cultural symposium held in the city this October.

Director of the Institute of Cultural Capital (ICC), Dr Beatriz Garcia will reveal the findings from her Impacts 18 study, which charts Liverpool’s progress since bidding for the coveted Culture title.

Research began with the Impacts 08 programme, which spanned 2005-2010 and evaluated the social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts of Liverpool holding the accolade.

Impacts 18 continues this vital research and examines how this experience has evolved a decade on. The research interrogates the legacy of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture across five main themes:

  • City image and reputation
  • Participation and wellbeing
  • Governance and leadership
  • Cultural vibrancy
  • Economy and tourism

The findings of the report will be unveiled at the conference and is expected to reveal if culture has really made a difference since 2008, what the level of engagement with culture is in the city, how has it changed people’s perceptions of the city and is it really a catalyst for wellbeing?

A debate will take place around whether having the cultural accolade has made a difference to Liverpool since 2008. From changing media representations and perceptions of the city to being a catalyst for wellbeing; changing levels of cultural engagement across neighbourhoods, to shaping resident’s sense of place; from changing levels of visitor engagement with culture to enhancing governance and cultural leadership.

Dr Beatriz Garcia said: “No other city has documented the journey surrounding a major cultural intervention and its multiple impacts as extensively as Liverpool, and it is the first time these questions are revisited a decade onwards.

“This is why, this coming October, cities around the world will benefit from engaging in the conversation and identifying areas worth replicating. City leaders, practitioners and researchers have accumulated over 30 years of debate about the merits of culture-led regeneration across the globe, calling it the ‘Barcelona model’ or the ‘Bilbao effect’.

“In parallel, we also have over three decades of criticism and warnings: from the risks of gentrification to the fear of empty, unused grand spaces or ‘white elephants’.

“This symposium will engage with actual evidence and discuss how to capture it. From explaining what leads to an ‘image renaissance’ to assessing what makes stakeholders act collectively, we will present unquestionable evidence about the value of culture for city development and explain what does – or fails to – sustain over time.”

The research will be presented as part of Cities of Culture 30 Years On: Who Has the Edge? an international symposium taking place on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 October. It will see world-renowned speakers head to Liverpool Town Hall to discuss experiences in cities big and small, from Barcelona to Shanghai, Marseille to London and Porto to Los Angeles.

They will debate topics such as what counts as a cultural renaissance in the 21st century, what are the risks to success, what are the impacts of local and international partnership working and whether going bigger is always better.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson said: “I don’t think anyone who lives or has visited Liverpool could be in doubt of the transformative power of culture.

“A decade ago, this city was propelled into the limelight for all the right reasons and culture was at the heart of that. It changed this city physically and emotionally – we got our swagger back and we haven’t lost it since.

“As part of this special anniversary year, we wanted to bring big cultural players from across the globe to share their experiences of culture and uncover the vital lessons we can learn from each other.

“It is also the perfect opportunity for the team behind the Impacts 18 report to unveil their findings and showcase exactly what the legacy of ’08 has been.

“To stage this international symposium and welcome these highly-respected speakers to the city is a huge coup for Liverpool – and I couldn’t think of a more fitting location than a city that lives and breathes culture.”

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